Major League Baseball officials have been reportedly discussing a plan to begin the baseball season in late June, or early July at the latest, in an effort to bring back the national pastime with some coronavirus-conscious adjustments.
Bob Nightengale, baseball columnist for USA Today, reports that the MLB is giving consideration to an unorthodox plan that would start the season without fans and create three new divisions, based on geography to reduce travel and unnecessary contact.
These new 10-team temporary divisions would supersede the American and National leagues, with Nightengale noting that the divisions could be based on Western teams, Central teams and Eastern teams, providing the following example:
San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers.
Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians.
Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays.
The columnist, who spoke with three executives in the MLB, reports that the plan has officials “cautiously optimistic,” particularly with developments in coronavirus testing, but also noted that it is still in the consideration phase. The plan would also need to be approved by medical experts.
The MLB postponed the season indefinitely in mid-March, shortly before the regular season was scheduled to begin, noting that the move was a public health measure.
The Athletic reported on Tuesday that MLB officials have been modeling “virtually any idea” that will allow teams to play this year, but have not settled on anything definitively.
“Those involved at the sport’s highest levels are increasingly confident games will be played in 2020,” reports the news agency. “Rather than rush into a plan and increase the risk of mistakes, the league will continue gathering information and likely wait as long as possible to present a proposal for the players association.”
Jon Heyman, an insider at MLB Network, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that officials still plan to hold the MLB draft on June 10, but noted that the event would be virtual instead of being held in Omaha.
The MLB draft is still planned to be done June 10. Virtually of course. Was originally supposed to be in Omaha but of course there’s no College World Series now.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) April 28, 2020
The NFL recently held a virtual draft and received record ratings, attracting more than 55 million viewers over the course of three days, according to the league. The figures represented a growth in viewership of approximately 35% from the 2019 draft.
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